Previous Section Home Page

Q5. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 26 October.

The Prime Minister : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Evans : Does my right hon. Friend agree that, with a few exceptions, the British people pay themselves far too much money? [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Mr. Evans : Does the Prime Minister view with alarm the engineers' threatened strike for a 35-hour working week, which will leave Britain with the shortest working week in the industrial world?

The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend is correct. In the past year earnings seem to have gone ahead of increases in productivity, and that has put up our unit labour costs and will make us uncompetitive with those people in our industrial competitor countries--in Germany, the United States and Japan. It is vital that we stay competitive. I share my hon. Friend's concern about the possibility of a 35-hour week. Some of us do 35 hours in two days and then again in another two days.

Q7. Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 26 October.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Column 1047

Mr. Foulkes : Will the Prime Minister consider repudiating what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday and will she rule out the use of force when repatriating the Vietnamese boat people?

The Prime Minister : No. Most countries repatriate illegal immigrants, unless they are not really illegal immigrants but refugees, in which case it is totally different. Some 13,000 of the Vietnamese boat people have so far been found to be refugees. Most countries repatriate illegal immigrants involuntarily. We also put back over the Chinese border from Hong Kong over two years some 35, 000 illegal immigrants from China. The United States repatriates people to Mexico and Haiti. There is nothing unusual about deporting to repatriate.

Q8. Mr. Kirkhope : To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the Government's inner cities policies.

The Prime Minister : Excellent progress continues to be made in the regeneration of our inner cities under the Government's action for cities programme, spending on which is planned to increase from £3 billion in 1988-89 to about £3.5 billion this year. Unemployment in the 57 inner city target areas has fallen by 23 per cent. over the past year.

Mr. Kirkhope : Does my right hon. Friend agree that our policies have set the people free from the shackles of Labour local authorities, enabling them to take a full role in implementing all the improvements that are going on around them?

The Prime Minister : Yes, the regeneration of the inner cities is due to our policies. We formed urban development corporations in many cases to get round extreme Left-wing councils. Secondly, the policy of enterprise and personal

Column 1048

responsibility has paid off handsomely, both in increased jobs and in an increased sense of responsibility and co- operation between industry and the people in inner city areas. The story is a good one and could never have happened under the arrogant controls of Socialism.

Mr. Livingstone : Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether she shares the concern that is widespread in society, that convictions should not be based--

Mr. Speaker : Order. This is a definitive question to the Prime Minister.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Will my right hon. Friend reflect, when dealing with the problems of the inner cities, that health problems are important? Will she call to the attention of her right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health the fact that the problems of Manchester and Liverpool should be taken into account when setting the regional health budgets and not only, as proposed, the problems of London?

The Prime Minister : I take my hon. Friend's point and I will draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health to it. I have, of course, visited Liverpool comparatively recently and seen the great improvements taking place there.

Mr. Vaz : The Prime Minister may recall that on 18 October 1972 in this House, a Conservative Minister, in response to the plight of the expelled Ugandan Asians, stated that there was always a small number of nasty people seeking to make their lives difficult. Is that not the perfect example of the Government's current policy on the proposed compulsory repatriation--

Mr. Speaker : Order. That has nothing to do with inner cities.

Next Section (Debates)

  Home Page